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Panoramic Hill - Chaparral Peak - Strawberry Canyon Loop

6.7 mile trail near Berkeley, California with excellent bay views
Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 6.7 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview :  Panoramic Hill - Chaparral Peak - Strawberry Canyon Loop is about 6.7 miles long and located near Berkeley, California. The trail is... more »

Tips:  Hiking boots are a good idea, because even though it's mostly on fire trails, there are some steep sections with a lot of loose gravel... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trail Head

The trail head (shown in the photo) is under the POI #1 marker at the hairpin bend in Stonewall Road. You will probably have to park below (near where it says "GO", or below on Claremont Ave south of Ashby) and either come up Stonewall or Tanglewood Road (where there is a sidewalk leading to the trail head near the North end of the road.) Follow ... More

2. Trail to North Side of the Canyon

At this bend, you get nice views of the UC Berkeley campus to the north, and San Francisco to the west. As the trail goes around the giant eucalyptus, there will be a small trail into the woods to your left. This is the trail you will take back from the north side of the canyon later (from POI #13). Continue to the right, up the main fire trail... More

3. Top of Panoramic Hill

You will come to a sign saying something like "Warning: steep hill, loose gravel"; there is a new bench nearby. After this steep section, a second bench provides a nice place to catch your breath and admire the view. On a clear day, you can see the Golden Gate, Richmond, Bay (both spans) and San Mateo bridges from here. You will hit a private... More

4. Pine Grove

Look to your left, just past the gate of the house, to find a path through the pine grove that grows along the ridge. Strawberry Canyon reserve, a part of the Berkeley campus, lies to the north. Continue along Panoramic Ridge via the main fire trail to your right; the pine grove will be on your left.

5. The Spiral Knob

As you continue along the upper Strawberry Canyon fire trail, you will pass a turn-off that goes downhill to your left. Pass this by and continue straight up the steep fire trail under the pines. You will reach the top, then descend; the trail then continues steeply upward along the south side of the Spiral Knob. As you reach the top, keep an... More

6. Chaparral Peak

Shortly after coming down from the Knob you will come to a cross roads at a saddle point. To the left, the road leads down to the lower Strawberry Canyon trail; to the right, it leads down into Claremont Canyon. Pass these by and continue straight up the south face of Chaparral Peak. Don't wait for the top for the views though, which are... More

7. Near Grizzly Peak

This section descends from Grizzle Peak to the lower Strawberry Canyon trail. I believe is a new fire road, which has fairly loose dirt and gravel, also a fair amount of trash from the road above. This descends below a large boulder that is popular with rock climbers and budding graffiti artists. Caution-- a kid fell off this boulder and died... More

8. Lower Strawberry Canyon Fire Trail

This is where you join the lower Strawberry Canyon trail. It travels along the inner perimeter of the canyon through dense woods. Go left.

[If you were to go right here instead, the trail goes about 1 mile to the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI, or "misery" if you ask the grad students), near the Lawrence Hall of Science. On... More

9. Optional Side Trail

This optional single-track trail leads through pine groves to a hill with very steep sides. Look for a sign saying "Ecological Study Zone". Pretty, but you can skip it if you're in a hurry or tired.

When you come back, continue along the main Strawberry Canyon trail. After about 1/3 of a mile, you will see a branch up to the left, which would... More

10. Bench Overlooking Strawberry Canyon

Continuing along the lower Strawberry Canyon trail, you will come to a bench made of a log, a nice place to stop and rest for a minute. Looks out over the wooded canyon, with the Berkeley campus and San Francisco in the distance. The place where I decided to move to California in 1990. The Spiral Knob is above and behind you. The trail then... More

11. Trail back to the Upper Fire Trail

A smaller fire trail branches off to the left from the main trail; this will take you back up to the ridge. There are other smaller single-track trails nearby that also go there, but these tend to be quite of steep (like the one in the picture.) When you get to the upper fire trail, go right, back along Panoramic Ridge.

(If instead of taking... More

12. Trail head, north side of Panoramic canyon

Just below the two houses at the top of Panoramic, you will see a small trail to your left. This has more nice views, but is pretty steep and narrow. If you think it might be too muddy, you can always take stay with the road, which will rejoin this trail below. If so, go left at the fork after the gate.

13. The Way Back

After coming down a short, steep section of Dwight Way, you will take a steep foot path to the left that leads down to a pair of largish rocks, overlooking the Clark Kerr part of the U.C. campus.

Just below the rocks, the trail to the left will take you down through Bay Trees to a small stream, then back up to the eucalyptus grove where you... More